Unilever-backed teen brand Wowgo debuts with Web site

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LONDON--Wowgo, the new Europe-wide lifestyle brand for teen girls, in which Unilever is an investor, is set to launch in the next few weeks with a Web site in the U.K. Other offline products and services are set to follow shortly.

Wowgo.com will go online backed by a promotional campaign that will span TV advertising, live events and guerilla and e-mail marketing. No budget is disclosed. The site will roll out into France, Germany, Scandinavia and Italy in localized versions later this year.

The concept of a brand for 12- to 17-year-old girls based on a one-to-one dialogue with its target market arose from the idea that current media and products fail to offer girls what they really want.

Wowgo, whose name was chosen by teen girls, plans soon to reveal the first in its range of offline products and services that could span mobile phones and financial services to fragrances. Discussions are underway with various marketers, according to Chief Executive David Peller.

"The essence of the brand lies in building a relationship with its consumers," he says. "In using digital media, we can truly get into a dialogue -- and quickly. The Web site provides an anchor for the relationship."

One of the first services off the blocks is likely to be a Wowgo VIP girls-only area at nightclub operator Northern Leisure's under-18 nights.

Unilever hopes its stake in Wowgo will help in its own drive to develop one-to-one relationships with consumers and also bring it insight into a fast-moving entrepreneurial business, says Mr. Peller. "Unilever has a strong business heritage and lots of internal processes, but it's now operating in a new digital age in which business is speeding up," he says. "It wants to see how we create an organization from scratch and move quickly to make decisions and bring a product to market in three to six months, not two to three years."

Wowgo.com will not carry traditional Web advertising -- perceived by Mr. Peller as "pretty ineffective" -- but will develop sponsorship and product-placement deals.

Mr. Peller refuses to comment on an agency appointment or the promotional campaign, pointing out only that the company's chairman is aMichael Gold, a founder of London's erstwhile GGT Advertising.

Copyright April 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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